This page lists the best blogging tools and most helpful resources we've discovered during our blogging journey, because the one thing that frustrated us most when we began blogging was not knowing where to go for help — or even where to start.
We do NOT want you to feel those same frustrations, so we've listed our favorite resources in one convenient location so you won't have to hunt them down for yourself.
This is an ever-evolving list, and we'll include new services as we add them to the rotation.
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links, we may receive a small referral fee at no cost to you. Read our disclosure policy here. We donate 25% of our “click money” proceeds to these charitable organizations.
The Best Blogging Resources for Beginners
Each of these links is to a product we currently use, love, and consider essential to blogging. We never recommend products anywhere on our site unless we 100% love them.
The majority of these products are FREE. Many offer paid upgrades to unlock additional features, and we've indicated that with a [FREE +] sign or have included the upgrade price next to the name.
A few on the list are not free, but they're included because we gained invaluable insight from the class or product. We only recommend paid courses if we made our money back from the purchase price, plus some.
We saved the best for last, so be sure to read to the end. Our favorite resource is a paid course, but it's the ONE course that completely changed the way we blog… ~ Erin & Daisy
The Best Organizational Tool for Bloggers:
Asana (FREE +): This is the only project management tool we use. We enter blog topics into our calendar and set due dates, then Asana emails reminders as those dates near. It's simple to add multiple users and assign tasks. Elle & Co. introduced us to Asana via this handy video. [We use the free version.]
The Best Free Stock Photography Sites:
Pexels (FREE): We particularly love the adventure-themed photos found on Pexels and use their images primarily to create Pinterest graphics. Pexel photos are free and have no copyright restrictions.
Unsplash (FREE): Lots of high-definition nature, lifestyle, and food photos. All are free for download and can be used anywhere! Very high quality shots, no copyright restrictions.
Picnoi (FREE): We're huge fans of this site for the images showing diversity and multi-racial families. All photos are free for download and don't have any copyright restrictions.
Minimography (FREE): If you're in need of minimalistic imagery of computers, work environments, and nature shots — Minimography is the place for you. Free images, no copyright restrictions.
Death to Stock (FREE): Subscribe to have free stock photos emailed directly to your inbox. If you're a writer, they'll send writing prompts along with the photos.
FoodiesFeed (FREE): Attention food photographers! This is a great place to go for beautiful food photography that doesn't fall under any copyright restrictions.
Creative Market (FREE +): This site offers designer fonts, Pinterest + Instagram templates, media kits, and beautiful stock photos. Register for a free account and receive 6 free goodies in your inbox every week.
The Best Free eBooks & Downloads:
7 Surefire Ways to Boost Your Blog Income Overnight (FREE): Tired of waiting (and waiting) for your first Amazon Affiliate sale? This helpful guide teaches you how to earn money from the audience you already have…no matter how small.
120 Awesome Blog Post Ideas (FREE): Exactly what it says…120 incredible topic ideas to help your connect with your readers. (PS: Here's our helpful posts with 175+ free topic ideas for beauty bloggers and 175 free topic ideas for travel bloggers!)
10 Steps to Take When Your Blog Post Goes Viral (FREE): If you're lucky enough to have a post go viral, it may happen at a moment's notice. You need to act quickly in order to maximize profits and build lasting momentum! (More from us on that topic here, including tips for when your video goes viral.)
We're fortunate to have had multiple posts and a video go viral, but it helped that we read this free eBook in advance so we knew how to properly monetize when it happened.
The Blog Structure Blueprint (FREE): Providing a clear blog structure is critical so your readers can find exactly what they're looking for. This handy download will help you determine the best categories and structure for your site.
The Best Social Media Schedulers:
RecurPost (FREE +): This is the easiest scheduler we've found for publishing evergreen content on Twitter. The interface is simple to use, even for beginners! [We use the free version.]
Buffer (FREE +): Do you surf the web late at night (as we do) and find awesome content, but then bookmark it for later because you know no one is awake to see your share? If so, use Buffer to schedule those posts to Facebook or Twitter at a time you designate. [We use the free version.]
CoSchedule ($15/mo+): If you prefer to have all your scheduling under one roof, CoSchedule is a great option. Read our in-depth review of CoSchedule to learn more about our favorite features. [We use the paid version.]
The Best Pinterest Scheduler:
Tailwind (FREE trial then $9.99/mo): We love Tailwind because it makes our Pinterest account appear active even when we're out having fun! Tailwind posts pins onto our boards at optimal times to provide the best exposure.
We have a Pinterest reach of well over 2 million, so it's important that we use the best scheduler to drive traffic to our site. Tailwind is an official Pinterest Marketing Developer Partner, while Boardbooster is not, and that definitely factored into our decision.
Tailwind Tribes (FREE +): Expose your pins to even more people once you get into using Tailwind Tribes! Begin with the free trial to schedule up to 100 pins, then upgrade to pro if you love it. [We love it and use the paid version.]
The Best Email & List Building Resources:
Gmail (FREE +): You'll eventually want an email address using your own domain ([email protected]), but gmail is perfectly fine for beginners. The best thing about a gmail account is that it gives you access to Google's entire suite of FREE productivity tools, including Google docs, drive, calendar, and more.
MailerLite (FREE +): MailerLite is a great way to stay in touch with readers via email. Send emails for FREE (up to 1,000 subscribers), create landing pages, and capture leads with unobtrusive welcome bars like you see along the top of many websites. Receive a $30 MailerLite credit through our affiliate link. [We use the paid version.]
One of the most important things you can do as a new blogger is to have readers opt-in to your newsletter. Social media comes and goes, but you'll always have your email list as a form of communication! We love MailerLite because it has the same features as ConvertKit at half the cost.
Unroll.me (FREE): Once your business or personal email account gets out of control, it's difficult to reign it back in. Unroll.me displays a list of all your email subscriptions on one handy page, and you can simply click on the ones you no longer want. The app will handle everything from there, and you can unsubscribe from hundreds of annoying emails in seconds! [We use the free version.]
The Best Developer Resources:
Nothing drives us crazier than technology problems! Seriously. You don't want to be anywhere near our house when something goes wrong with the website! We turn into major grumps.
Sucuri (FREE+): If you ever suspect your site's been hacked, use Sucuri's free sitechecker to run a free scan for malware, website errors, out-of-date software, and blacklisting status. (If you visit a site and suspect it may be hacked, you can also check it via Securi.) [We use the free version.]
iMark Interactive (rates vary): Grayson Bell of iMark Interactive is a fellow Elite Blog Academy graduate who wins the award for “most mentions” on the private EBA Facebook Page. Website down? Call Grayson. Need to switch to SSL? Grayson is your man. Want honest tech advice? Grayson to the rescue. Need a quick fix? It's a one-time fee of $42. He's a triple threat: honest, reliable, and affordable. When we have nagging site issues, iMark is our first stop. [We pay for this service.]
Codeable (rates vary): You can seriously harm your website if you make one wrong adjustment to the coding on the back end, so it's best to leave that to the professionals. At Codeable, you pay by the job and can bid jobs out to multiple developers to get the best rate. The developer that we use and recommend is Justin Frydman. Use our affiliate link to receive a discount when you book your first job! This is our go-to for major site updates/issues. [We pay for this service.]
The Best Hosting Company for Bloggers:
WP Engine ($29/mo +): We started out with Bluehost, but we ran into too many problems with them. (We're not the only ones!) The switch to WP Engine made a world of difference. WP Engine has built-in security so we don't have to worry about paying for separate site protection plans, backups are automatic, and they have free staging sites so you can preview changes and debut your new site when you're ready. Their customer service is legendary! [We use the paid version.]
If you're on a different host and want to switch to WP Engine, the WP Engine Automated Migration plugin makes switching a breeze!! No need to hire a developer or spend hours doing it yourself when they take care of everything for you. You can even leave your current site running and preview the migrated version in a staging site (hidden from public view) before going live to ease all worries.
The Best Design Resources:
Canva (FREE +): Canva is a great way to easily create eye-catching graphics that look professional. It's free and offers lots of great fonts and photos. We use Canva to create many of our pinnable images. (Examples here).
Adobe Creative Suite (FREE Trial, then $9.99/mo +): If you need more control over your graphics, Photoshop is our preferred option. We use it for editing and resizing photos, adding titles to pinnable images, and for creating ebooks. FYI: Students and teachers receive discounts on Adobe products. [We use the paid version of Adobe CC.]
The Best SEO & Site Statistics Resources:
Google Analytics & Google Analytics Keyword Planner (FREE): Every blogger should have Google Analytics installed on their site! It tells you who is visiting your site, how they arrived, and what they're clicking on.
Sponsors often request analytics, so if you plan to monetize your blog at any point it's best to set up Google Analytics from the start! It allows you and your sponsors to get to know your reader better.
YOAST SEO (FREE): This is hands down the best SEO plugin on the market. Yoast is such a robust tool and it helps us to rank high in organic searches — even without an extensive knowledge of SEO.
Keywords Everywhere (FREE): This FREE Chrome extension shows cost per click (CPC) info, competition data, and search volume info for the specific keywords you're targeting.
Jaaxy (FREE +): Jaaxy lists the number of websites competing for the specific keywords you're targeting, and tells EXACTLY which terms people are searching for so you can get your target audience to your blog. It also has a brainstorm feature to help you find new keywords if you tend to target similar ones frequently.
We currently have numerous posts ranking on the first page of Google search, thanks to Jaaxy. The site ranks each keyword from 0 – 100 and color codes terms from red to green so we can easily see which ones are best.
The Top Affiliate Programs for Bloggers:
If you plan to monetize your blog, we suggest starting out with the following beginner-friendly affiliate programs:
Amazon Affiliates (FREE): Amazon is one of the best and easiest ways for a new blogger to begin earning money online. The interface is easy to use and they'll deposit directly into your bank account when you earn as little as $10!
Rakuten (FREE): Rakuten Linkshare is the #1 affiliate site and one you'll want to join asap if you plan to share products from Nordstrom, Macy's, AT&T, or any number of other giant retailers. You'll receive your first check once you've earned $50 with Rakuten!
ShareASale (FREE): Just like Rakuten, it's best to join the program if you plan to link to any number of major national retailers! Their clients include giants such as the NBA and NFL clothing retailers, in addition to stationary companies like Minted and Tiny Prints.
Ultimate Bundles (FREE): If you're not familiar with the Ultimate Bundles packages, the company groups together top selling ebooks and printables on a variety of topics, then sells them as a package deal for a steep discount (like 90% off).
Affiliate Window (FREE): Awin is based out of Europe, so it's a great option for European-based bloggers. It includes many travel companies such as Lonely Planet, Trusted Housesitters, and Booking.com, so definitely look into it if you're US-based travel blogger.
Ebates (FREE): We were introduced to Ebates earlier this year and seriously have no idea why we didn't sign up sooner?! It allows you to earn cash back when you make purchases online. They'll even mail you a check for $10 when you sign up using our referral link!
Influencer Marketing Campaigns:
Linqia (FREE): Linqia connects bloggers with brands for paid campaigns. If selected, you'll be paid for each click you drive to a brand's website through a specific link.
Octoly (FREE): This is a great resource for beauty bloggers interested in receiving free beauty products to review.
Educational Sites for Bloggers:
Melyssa Griffin (FREE): Got a question about anything blog related? Melyssa probably has the answer. She's been blogging for years and writes very detailed posts explaining how to solve your biggest blogging issues.
Lauren Hooker | Elle & Co. (FREE): Want to turn your blog into a business? You'll find great tips here about transitioning from a hobby to a career. Be sure to tune in for the weekly “Ellechat” series of helpful webinars!
Kate Ahl | Simple Pin Media (FREE): Kate's blog and accompanying podcasts contain a wealth of info about all things Pinterest-related. Her Facebook group is the first place we go when we have Pinterest questions.
Clickin Moms (FREE +): If you want to improve your photography or editing skills, Clickin Moms is the place to be. The site offers tutorials, Q&A sessions with professional photographers, paid courses, a helpful forum, photo critiques, and more!
Our Top Recommendation for New Bloggers:
Elite Blog Academy: This is the only comprehensive blogging course we recommend, and it's the one resource that's made the biggest difference for us.
The instructor is Ruth Soukup of Living Well, Spending Less, and her in-depth video series is beyond motivating for new, intermediate, and advanced bloggers!
Members get lifetime access to any course updates, which is what spurred us to initially make the purchase. (It's like buying a college course and having access to the classes for the rest of your life!)
You also gain access to a private EBA Facebook Group, where thousands of like-minded bloggers and entrepreneurs help with blogging-related issues whenever you're stuck.
The course is only offered one time per year, and registration is currently closed. However, you can get on the waitlist so you won't miss out when it opens on March 5, 2018. Read our review of the class here.
The price tends to increase substantially each year, so it's better to invest early. [We use the paid version and enjoy the FREE lifetime updates.]
This is a Dynamic List, so Stay Tuned!
We'll keep adding to this list as we include new “bests” in our arsenal, but we truly hope the ones we provided so far will help steer you in the right direction. Feel free to ask questions below about any of the ones we've listed! Happy blogging. 🙂